Early Spring is characterized by ease and surety of strokes, executed quickly and having a tensile quality and structure. There are seven to eight layers of ink in softer areas, and the tonal range throughout is subtle. Broad outlines of boulders merge with background, showing a preference for integration.
Guo Xi made his reputation on his landscapes and pictures of dried trees, which are recognizable for their "crab-claw" branches. He painted "tall pines, lofty trees, winding streams, craggy cliffs, deep gorges, high peaks, and mountain ranges, at times cut off by clouds and mist, sometimes hidden in haze, representing them with a thousand variations and ten thousand forms."
Guo Xi is known to have prepared large-scale paintings for the decoration of several halls at court. Nevertheless, appreciation of his work at court varied greatly over time; it was said that after his death, his painting style had so fallen out of favor that a visitor to the court found someone using his old paintings as rags.